Miles Hodges

What's in a man

by Miles Hodges

When this man enters a room, he wishes to keep his chin up
To carry with him a continental smile
And a heart that lifts the floor like a splintering brass chorus of drums and saxophones
Quest and Coltrane marching to Gettysburg at my feet
With shotgun improvs that grow
And rock steady playing like a humble base line for the beautiful
The gorgeous shootouts that ring out throughout old Chicago jazz clubs
And smokey New Orleans hallways
He is a man
He is a man because he claims he's claimed his humanity
Yet still walks with the melancholy whisper of everything mama couldn't teach him
Preacher couldn't preach to him
On Fridays when the party ends the clouds unclench their fists
I walk home, empty pack if Marlboros in my back pocket
Girl, I don't know so well under my left arm laughing too damn loudly
I sit under a poster of Hendrix with Mona Lisa-like eyes that follow me wherever I go and I wonder
What's in a man
It wasn't always like that though
Before the intrigue of standing tall swallowed my skin
Every boy had a smiling father to dribble him
Every watch could stop if you please
Every set of five fingers had a warm twin that fit
But since then I've spent too many Sundays with the sun and girls just looking for dick
Thought I had one once but now all I do is write black love poems
The only thing she hates more than me are mirrors
The only thing I hate more than love is not being in it
Call it crystal eyed or young of me to say
But some days I wake up wondering where have all the trumpets gone
What makes a man
And what have they done with Motown's tongue
When did the sound of my own breathe become not enough music to get me through the night
And why can't we let ourselves go in the nighttime without messing it up in the morning
In the morning, wake me up like we died in each other's arms twelve hours prior
And had been planning to do so on breathe cue from the first time my lips cuddled your forehead
I know my carpet may not taste as sweet as the golden gates but you slept here last night
Some where between the bankers club and the eight ball from yesterday
I was reminded that a broken heart bleeds red
So my past, my insides got you looking like a fresh murder
Can I be a man and clean that up for you?
Can you love me just as hard if I'd rather talk some stuff out
Rather picket fence my tongue quiet and slow like a steam across the whole navy Van Gogh of your body
Cheek to back curve of your thigh until I disappear
And there's no more before, no more after
Just a screaming white light rattling the inside of your skull like a drug addicted prisoner
And a man standing tall with a motionless face
Looking down on his work like a lost diamond